100 Useful Real Estate Marketing Terms

100 Useful Real Estate Marketing Terms
September 13, 2023 Braxton Wilhelmsen

100 Useful Real Estate Marketing Terms


A real estate agent’s job is to bring property listings to market. In essence, every real estate agent is a marketer. At Open Homes, we do everything we can to make marketing yourself and your properties easy for you, impressive to your clients, and effective for your bottom line. Below is a list of 100 useful marketing terms and their definitions to get you off to a great start in your marketing efforts.


Aerial Photography & Video

The use of dones or other aerial technology to capture high-quality photographs and videos of properties from above. This visual content provides a unique perspective and is often used in property listings and marketing materials to showcase a property’s features and surroundings.

Agent Headshots

A professional photograph of a real estate agent, typically used in marketing materials, websites, and social media profiles. An agent’s headshot helps establish their personal brand and build trust with potential clients.


The process of collecting, measuring, and analyzing data related to real estate marketing efforts and website traffic. Analytics tools provide insights into the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, allowing agents to make data-driven decisions and improvements.


The use of technology and software to streamline repetitive tasks. Automation can include automated email campaigns, lead nurturing, and appointment scheduling, saving agents time and improving efficiency.

Awareness Stage

The initial phase of a potential client’s journey in the real estate buying or selling process. During the awareness stage, individuals are becoming aware of their real estate needs and may start researching and seeking information about properties and the market.


Backlinks are links from one website to another. Backlinks are important for search engine optimization (SEO) as they can improve a real estate agent’s website’s authority and search engine ranking. High-quality backlinks from reputable sources are particularly valuable.

B2B (Business-to-Business)

B2B refers to transactions and relationships between two businesses, such as a real estate agency partnering with a property management company to provide services to commercial property owners.

B2C (Business-to-Consumer)

B2C describes transactions and interactions between real estate agents or agencies and individual consumers, such as homebuyers or sellers.

Bottom of the Funnel

This refers to the final stage of the buyer’s journey, where potential clients are close to making a decision. Real estate agents focus on converting these leads into clients, often through property showings and negotiations.

Brand Awareness (Brand Equity)

Brand Awareness is the extent to which potential clients are familiar with and recognize your brand. Brand equity refers to the value and reputation associated with the brand, which can influence clients’ trust and loyalty.

Brand Positioning

Brand Positioning is the way a real estate agent or agency positions themselves in the market, emphasizing their unique value proposition and differentiating themselves from competitors. Effective brand positioning helps clients understand why they should choose a particular agent or agency.

Buyer Persona

A semi-fictional representation of an ideal client or target audience in the real estate industry. It includes demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics, helping agents tailor their marketing efforts and messages to resonate with specific audiences.

Buyer’s Journey

The stages a potential client goes through when considering buying or selling real estate. It typically includes awareness, consideration, and decision stages, each requiring different marketing strategies and content.

Call to Action (CTA)

Refers to a clear and specific prompt in marketing materials or websites that encourages potential clients to take a desired action, such as contacting the agent for a consultation, signing up for a newsletter, or scheduling a property viewing.


Churn refers to the rate at which clients or leads discontinue their engagement with an agent or agency. Reducing churn is essential for maintaining a healthy client base. Another common word for this is “turnover.”

CMS (Content Management System)

CMS is a software platform used to create, edit, and manage digital content on websites. A CMS simplifies the process of publishing property listings, blog posts, and other content. For example, Open Homes has created a proprietary CMS that allows our clients to easily create and edit beautiful property websites without having to know code or hire a design professional.

Content Marketing

A strategic marketing approach that involves creating and sharing valuable, relevant content to attract and engage potential clients. Real estate agents use content marketing to provide information about properties, market trends, and real estate advice to build trust and credibility. This typically includes things like blog articles, podcasts, videos and useful social media posts.

Conversion Rate

Conversion Rate is the percentage of potential clients who take a desired action, such as filling out a contact form or scheduling a property viewing, compared to the total number of visitors or leads. A higher conversion rate indicates the effectiveness of real estate marketing efforts. “Conversion” refers to progress from one stage in the buyer’s journey to another.

Customer Acquisition

Customer Acquisition is the process of attracting and obtaining new clients. It encompasses various marketing and outreach strategies to expand an agent’s client base.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV or LTV)

The estimated total value a client is expected to bring to a real estate agent over their entire relationship. It includes not only the current transaction, but also potential future transactions and referrals.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Software tools and strategies used by real estate agents to manage and nurture client relationships. A CRM system helps agents track client interactions, automate communications, and stay organized. A few popular CRM tools include Salesforce, Hubspot and Zendesk Sell.


The level of interest and desire among potential clients for a particular type of property or service. Understanding demand is crucial for pricing properties appropriately and targeting marketing efforts.

Email Drip Campaign

Refers to a series of automated email messages sent to potential clients over time to nurture leads and guide them through the buyer’s journey. Real estate agents use drip campaigns to stay top-of-mind and provide valuable information to prospects. Drip campaigns can also be used after a sale to follow-up with buyers and encourage referrals.

Email List

Email Lists are curated list of email addresses. These belong to potential and current clients or individuals interested in receiving updates, newsletters, or property listings from an agent. Email lists are crucial for email marketing campaigns.

Engagement Rate

A metric that measures the level of interaction and involvement of potential clients with a real estate agent’s marketing content, such as emails, social media posts, or blog articles. A higher engagement rate indicates that content is resonating with the audience.

Floor Plans

Floor Plans are detailed and scaled drawing of a property’s layout, showing the arrangement of rooms, dimensions, and important features. Floor plans are often included in property listings to provide a clear visual representation of the space. Open Homes can provide floor plans either from a Matterport or by sending out a professional drafter to make precise measurements. Floor plans help buyers get a quick idea of the layout of a property which can be difficult to imagine just from looking at photographs.

Go-to-Market Strategy (GTM)

Go-to-Market Strategy is a comprehensive plan outlining how a real estate agent will introduce a new property or service to the market. It includes marketing tactics, target audience identification, and the timeline for the launch. Each property is different and may benefit from a unique mix of marketing tactics. Open Homes offers a wide range of services to build the perfect package for each property.


Keywords or phrases preceded by the “#” symbol, used primarily on social media platforms to categorize and make content discoverable. Real estate agents can use relevant hashtags to increase the visibility of their property listings and engage with a broader audience.

Inbound Marketing

A marketing methodology that focuses on attracting potential clients through valuable content and interactions rather than traditional outbound advertising. Real estate agents use inbound marketing to create meaningful connections with leads and clients.


Specific words or phrases that potential clients are likely to use when searching for properties or real estate services online. Incorporating relevant keywords into website content and marketing materials helps improve search engine rankings.


Individuals or businesses who have expressed interest in a real estate agent’s services or property listings. Leads can be acquired through various marketing channels, and they represent potential clients in different stages of the buying or selling process. A qualified lead is someone who has reached the point of readiness to make a purchase decision, and needs help from an agent or salesperson to do so.

Listing Photography

High-quality photographs of a property’s interior and exterior used in property listings. Professional listing photography is essential for showcasing a property’s features and attracting potential buyers. According to the NAR survey, 99% of millennial homebuyers begin their search for a home online. Over 85% of homebuyers say that photography is the most important factor in deciding which homes to view. In San Francisco in 2021, properties with listing photographs shot by Open Homes sold for an average of 12% over asking, compared to the MLS average of 1% over asking. With numbers like these, it’s clearly worth the investment to get the best images available for your property listing.

Listing Website

A dedicated website or webpage that displays detailed information and photos of a specific property for sale. Listing websites provide a centralized location for potential buyers to learn more about a property. Open Homes includes a property website with every marketing package, including beautiful templates and an easy-to-use CMS to make updating your website easy and painless.


A 3D virtual tour technology used in real estate to create immersive and interactive property tours. Matterport tours provide potential buyers with a detailed and realistic view of a property’s layout and features.

Middle of the Funnel

The stage in the buyer’s journey where potential clients have moved past the initial awareness phase and are actively considering their options. Real estate agents focus on nurturing and providing valuable information to leads in the middle of the funnel.

Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

A database used by real estate professionals to list and access information about properties available for sale. MLS systems are region-specific and help real estate agents share property information and cooperate with other agents.

National Association of Realtors (NAR)

A professional organization in the United States that represents and supports real estate agents, brokers, and professionals. NAR provides training, advocacy, and standards for ethical real estate practices.

Outbound Marketing

Traditional marketing practices where real estate agents actively reach out to potential clients through methods such as cold calling, direct mail, or email blasts. It contrasts with inbound marketing, which focuses on attracting clients through content and online presence.

Paid Search

A form of online advertising where real estate agents pay for their listings or advertisements to appear prominently in search engine results when specific keywords are entered. Paid search can increase the visibility of property listings.

Personal Brand

The unique and authentic identity that a real estate agent cultivates to differentiate themselves in the market. A strong personal brand helps build trust and recognition among clients and prospects. 

Real Estate Video

The use of video content in real estate marketing, which can include property tours, neighborhood guides, agent introductions, and client testimonials. Video is a powerful tool for showcasing properties and engaging potential clients. According to a survey by Hubspot, 80% of consumers watch videos online every week, and 50% of them say that they’ve been influenced by a video to make a purchase.


A real estate brokerage and online marketplace that provides property listings, real estate agent services and more.

Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI measures the profitability of an investment, such as a property purchase. It’s calculated by comparing the gain or cost savings to the initial investment and is crucial for evaluating the financial performance of real estate assets.

Sales Cycle

The series of stages and interactions that potential clients go through before making a decision in the real estate context. The sales cycle includes stages like awareness, consideration, evaluation, and ultimately, closing a deal.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

A digital marketing strategy involving paid advertising on search engines like Google or Bing. Real estate agents use SEM to display their listings prominently in search engine results pages and attract potential buyers or sellers. SEM is a subset of Paid Marketing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The process of optimizing a real estate agent’s website and online content to improve its visibility in search engine results for relevant keywords. Effective SEO helps increase organic (non-paid) website traffic.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERP)

The pages displayed by search engines in response to a user’s query. Real estate agents aim to have their websites and property listings appear on the first page of SERPs to maximize visibility.

Social Media Marketing

A digital marketing strategy that involves using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to connect with potential clients, share property listings, and build brand awareness.


The practice of preparing a property for sale by enhancing its appearance and appeal to potential buyers. Staging may involve introducing or rearranging furniture, adding decor, and making necessary repairs to showcase a property’s potential.

Top of the Funnel

The initial stage in the buyer’s journey when potential clients are becoming aware of their real estate needs and seeking information. Real estate agents focus on providing educational and informative content to capture leads at this stage.

Virtual Staging

The use of digital technology to add furniture, decor, and other visual enhancements to property photos to make them more appealing to potential buyers. Virtual staging is cost-effective and flexible compared to physical staging.

Virtual Twilight

A technique in real estate photography where images of a property are digitally edited to depict it in the twilight or evening hours, creating a visually striking and inviting atmosphere. Virtual Twilights from Open Homes are a convenient and effective way to add interest to your listing to get more clicks. 

Word of Mouth

Refers to the recommendations or referrals that potential clients receive from friends, family, or acquaintances about a real estate agent’s services or properties. Positive word-of-mouth can significantly impact an agent’s reputation and business.


An online real estate marketplace and platform where real estate agents can list properties and potential clients can search for homes, view property details, and connect with agents. Zillow is a popular resource in the real estate industry.



“Blown-out” refers to an image or areas of an image that are so bright that no information exists there. If you sampled the area using a color-picker in Photoshop, the color would read #FFFFFF, which is pure white. This often occurs in skies when exposing for the foreground, or in windows when shooting indoors. Blown-out highlights are an eyesore and betray the realism of an image.


Noise in an image refers to random variations in digital color information across the pixels in an image. This can be caused by shooting with a very high sensor sensitivity (ISO) or by underexposing dark areas of an image. It is essentially the result of a weak signal detection by the sensor. The result is inaccurate color and difficulty interpreting fine details in an image. Heavily processing an already noisy image can also enhance the noise, making a poor image unusable.


Grain is similar to and sometimes synonymous with noise. Rather than being random variation of color and brightness, however, grain refers to the quality degradation associated with a high sensitivity of the recording medium (ISO). When grain is visible, an image may look to the naked eye like it is made of thousands of small dots rather than being a seamless reproduction of reality. Grain, as opposed to noise, is more commonly used when referring to film cameras and darkroom prints, or by people who are most familiar with those processes.


Brightness is often used synonymously with “exposure.” It is a non-technical word that describes an overall high-key character of an image. In other words, an image in which the image’s data averages closer to white than to black. Some customers may use it to mean that the image is overexposed, while others may use it to mean that the white balance is correct. Brightness may also refer to the contrast in an image. When a customer is requesting that images be “brighter” or complaining that they are “too bright,” ask clarifying questions to understand what they’re actually looking for. Is it overexposed? Is it washed-out (low contrast)? Is it too yellow?


Saturation refers to the intensity of colors in an image. If saturation is too low, the image will have dull colors, or look monochromatic. Saturation can also be too high, resulting in unnaturally intense colors. 

White balance or color balance

Each type of light source emits a different color of light. Daylight is considered to be a neutral color. Artificial lights can be daylight, more yellow/orange or more blue in color (warmer or cooler). Cameras must adjust to the color of light in an image to record it accurately. This can be done manually by the photographer, or the camera can do it automatically if set to do so. Images shot indoors, even if balanced properly, usually need to be corrected in post production where multiple varied light sources exist. For example, if a shot of a living room is lit with fluorescent lights, tungsten lamps, and daylight coming from outside, there will be a mixture or warm and cool light sources in the shot. The more varied colors of light in an image, the more inaccurate the colors will appear and the worse it generally looks.


Contrast is the difference between the light and dark areas of an image. An image with low contrast will look flat and dull because the light areas of the image are too similar to those that should be dark. In layman’s terms, good contrast means an image is “punchy.” An image with the contrast too strong will look stark and unnatural, with darks too dark and light areas too bright.


A pixels is the basic unit of information in an image. A pixel is a single point in an image, which contains a color. Many thousands of pixels of various colors put together are what comprise a digital image. Modern images are made up of millions of pixels. To simplify discussion about image sizes, we now refer to image resolution in terms of megapixels. A megapixel is 1,000,000 pixels.


Resolution refers to the ability of a camera, lens or image to resolve the light they record. This means they can create clear distinctions between objects, recording them with fine accuracy. To those who are not photographers, resolution will primarily refer to the number of pixels in an image, because more pixels generally means increased ability to record fine detail. This might be displayed as a number: 2000 x 3000 pixels could be the resolution of a photograph. This amounts to 6 megapixels, which may also be given as a measure of resolution.

To illustrate how resolution works, imagine you are a great pointillist artist and must draw the Eiffel Tower with a pen. How would it look if you could only use 25 dots to draw it? What if you did the same drawing again with a 6,000,000 dot limit? It would probably look much more realistic and detailed with 6 megadots. This is how pixels work, and why more pixels generally results in finer results.

Sharp & in focus

If an image is in focus, it means the subject of the image has clearly defined, crisp edges and details. This refers to what was done with the lens while shooting, and can also be referred to as taking a photograph that is sharp. Even if an image was shot in focus, it can be sharpened further in post production. This effect is also referred to as sharpness. At Open Homes, we get our images in focus (sharp) in-camera, and also sharpen them in post-production. This results in a very clear image where the details are easily understood.

Lens blur vs motion blur

Lens blur results when the lens is not focused on the desired object prior to shooting. Our photographers generally try to keep everything in focus, but occasionally focus is missed. 

Motion blur typically refers to the blurring of objects in a scene that are moving quickly while the shutter is open. In real estate photography where objects generally aren’t moving, we also get motion blur when the camera is bumped, or when the photographer accidentally moves the camera while pressing the shutter button.

Both types of blur can only be corrected if they are very subtle. Large amounts of blur are irreparable and blurry images generally need to be discarded or reshot.


Lenses of various focal lengths each deliver light to the sensor in a different way. For example, long focal lengths compress foreground and background together, while wide lenses increase the perceived distance between foreground and background, making further objects appear much smaller than close objects. Wide lenses also bend vertical and horizontal lines, which can make a home look like something from a funhouse mirror. This is a simple tradeoff we make to be able to capture the entirety of large rooms all in one shot.

We correct distortion in post-production, making vertical lines straight and perfectly vertical and making horizontal lines straight and horizontal. This way we still get a wide view of each room while keeping it looking natural–the way our eyes see.


Though optical engineers do an incredible job designing lenses, every lens suffers from some major or minor compromises in how they convey light to the sensor. Lenses with wide focal lengths tend to have more significant vignetting. Vignetting is darkening that occurs in the corners or edges of an image. This effect has gone in and out of fashion over the years, but at Open Homes, our goal is to create as realistic and natural an image as possible so customers focus on the home rather than on the photography. We don’t see vignettes with the naked eye (unless you’re having a stroke!) so we avoid and correct for vignetting in our work.


Ghosting doesn’t have anything to do with the unpleasant deceased, but it’s every bit as scary. Ghosting occurs in post-production when images are combined together, or when tonal changes are applied without care. The effect is recognizable at the edges between objects in a scene. One side of the edge will have an area of darkness, and the other side will be too light. If you see this in an image, especially across the whole image, it’s likely HDR processing was used, or just lazy brushwork. Like all distracting, unnatural effects, we want to avoid ghosting in our images.

Chromatic aberration

Just like light entering a prism (like on that one Pink Floyd album cover), light passing through several pieces of curved glass in a lens will sometimes separate into its various component colors. When this light is recorded on the sensor, it looks like there are magenta and green around the edges of everything in the photo. This is undesirable, and we correct it in post-production when it occurs. If this effect is at all severe, it is likely the photographer was using an inferior lens, which should be addressed with the VA.


Composition refers to the arrangement of objects and space in an image. A successful composition quickly and clearly communicates the subject of the photo, leads the viewer’s eye intentionally, and is generally what evokes emotion.

Leading lines

Perspective lines, like the edge of a countertop or the edges of a driveway, can be used to point the viewer’s eye to the subject of a photo. Similarly, curved lines like the railing on a curved staircase or a winding road give the eye a path to follow. These curving lines are sometimes called “S-curves.”

Negative space

Negative space is the space in between objects in a photo, often occupied by a featureless background such as a blank wall or floor. In some photographs, the negative space can actually be the subject of the photo. We won’t generally do that at Open Homes since we are highlighting selling points, and empty space is usually not a selling point. Negative space also has weight, and is an important consideration in creating balance in a photo, which we will define next.


We want customers to feel comfortable and at home when looking at our work. If an image is not well balanced, it creates tension, which we avoid. Balance refers to the visual weight of objects and negative space in our composition. If too many objects or too much space are present in one area of an image with nothing to offset them, this creates imbalance. Balance can be achieved via symmetry, or by using uneven combinations of space and objects as counterweights against each other. 

Rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is a rule of thumb for artists and photographers to help them create pleasant compositions. The photograph is divided with two lines (three parts) vertically and two lines horizontally (three parts). The intersections of these lines, also known as thirds, are usually great places to put the subject of the photo. The horizontal lines are great places to put a horizon, and the top left and right intersections are great places to put faces. There are many ways to successfully compose, so the rule of thirds is an easy guideline, but not truly a rule that must be followed.


Artists have been putting their compositions into frames for hundreds of years. At Open Homes, we don’t deliver our photos to realtors as framed prints, but as a compositional element, we certainly still use framing. In composition, we use arched doorways, windows, arbors and more as in-photo frames for the objects captured within them. This is just one more way to add an artistic touch to our photography.


ISO is one of three camera settings that give us control over the light we record. ISO stands for International Standards Organization, which is the regulatory body that determined measurements and standards for film sensitivity decades ago. Today, we use sensors, but still have an ISO setting which allows us to adjust the sensitivity of the sensor. The more sensitive the sensor, or the higher the ISO, the less light is required to properly expose an image. The tradeoff is reduced image quality. A low ISO requires more light, but image quality is higher, meaning more accurate color and less noise. High ISOs are typically used in low-light situations such as shooting indoors without a flash and when a tripod is not available.

Shutter speed

The shutter is a curtain which opens and closes to reveal and hide the sensor. The speed of this action can be adjusted to allow light to hit the sensor for longer or shorter durations. This is the second of the three camera settings that allow us to control our exposure. If the shutter is open for a long period of time, motion blur is a risk. To avoid this, we use a tripod to keep the camera perfectly still. If photographs are coming in frequently with blurry objects, ensure that the photographer is using a tripod with a remote trigger or timer.


The third camera setting we use to control light, Aperture, refers to the opening in the lens through which light passes prior to reaching the sensor. Each camera lens has an adjustable aperture. A large aperture allows in more light, but results in a shallow depth of field, which we will define next. At Open Homes, we usually want all objects in focus, so a small aperture is needed. This results in less light entering the camera, which is why longer shutter speeds are needed to compensate.

Depth of field

Every photo captured has a focal plane or field of focus/ In other words, a certain area behind and in front of the photo’s subject in which other objects are in focus. A shallow depth of field means the background and foreground are blurry, with the subject in focus. An infinite depth of field means everything from the lens to the horizon is in focus. Depth of field is determined by the size of the aperture (and technically the size of the sensor plays a part as well.) 

Color space

Color space and color profile refer to the colors available during recording and display of an image. Digital cameras commonly shoot with Adobe RGB or Profoto RGB, which are color profiles that contain a very wide range of colors; however, web browsers cannot display that many colors. They use the sRGB color space which is more universal for on-screen display, but does not contain as many usable colors. Cameras use a larger gamut (range) of colors to achieve the highest possible quality and images are converted to sRGB during post-production to make them universally display-friendly.


Photography is essentially the art or process of recording light. Everything the camera captures is simply light directly from light sources or bouncing off of objects and back into the lens. This means that the color, intensity, diffusion and direction of light are one of the most important factors in successful photography. In real estate photography, we don’t have the luxury of controlling the light because of constraints on time and budget, but our visual artists can still take care to open or close blinds, change their shooting direction, or wait for the right moment to shoot on twilight shoots. Where lighting challenges cannot be addressed in-camera, they can often be resolved in post-production because we bracket our exposures at every shoot.

Exposure bracketing

During daytime, the light outdoors is generally much brighter than indoors. Cameras aren’t able to record these extremes as well as our eyes can see them. While shooting indoors, windows often appear overexposed, which looks unnatural and distracting. To compensate, we take at least two versions of each photo. One is exposed correctly for the interior of the home, while the second is darker–exposed properly for the outdoors. The two photos are then combined in post-production to create an image that better approximates how our eyes see the world.

Dynamic Range

The dynamic range of a camera’s sensor is the range of lights and darks it can simultaneously record. Anything that falls outside this limited range will appear as either pure white or pure black, which usually looks unnatural since our eyes don’t see that way. Cameras have come a long way over the years, but are still nowhere near the human eye in terms of the ability to see extremes of light and dark simultaneously.

Lens flare

Camera lenses are designed to focus light and deliver it to the camera’s sensor, but sometimes errant light enters the lens with either too much intensity, or from an unusual angle, or both. This can result in lens flare, which appears as a loss of contrast and detail in an area of an image. Lens flare can be used intentionally to create a sunny feeling, but is often problematic. For Open Homes, the home is the star of the show, not camera effects, and lens flare can often look unnatural once windows are replaced in post-production with a darker exposure. Lens flare can be mitigated by using a lens hood, and by being mindful of the position of the sun when shooting. In some cases, holding a hand up between the light source and the lens can make all the difference.


A tripod is a three-legged stand for supporting and stabilizing a camera. This is particularly important for Real Estate Photographers because we shoot indoors, in low-light situations, and bracket our shots. Bracketed shots need to be identical composition to enable easy compositing.


Cameras are devices used to record light for later viewing. We use DSLR and mirrorless cameras of various brands with professional quality lenses. Our photographers always carry backups to ensure that our customers are served regardless of inconvenient circumstances.


Matterport is the standard for 3D space capture. Its all-in-one platform transforms real-life spaces into immersive digital twin models. So much more than panoramic scans, Matterport empowers people to capture and connect rooms to create truly interactive 3D models of spaces.


A drone is a remote-controlled flying machine. We use drones with built-in cameras to capture birds-eye views of homes and their communities. Our drone pilots follow all required and recommended FAA regulations and guidelines.


Our photographers carry a backpack containing professional photography gear. This includes a variety of lenses, batteries, recording media, flashes and more. Our visual artists put down their backpacks and other gear and focus all their attention on getting to know the agent, their preferences, and the home prior to getting started.

Focal length

Focal length is also described as the “length” of a lens. A long lens (70mm+) magnifies the image and compresses the objects in the image, while a wide lens (16-50mm) creates more distance between objects, distorts them, and includes a much wider view. Focal lengths between 50-70mm are sometimes called “normal” lenses because the images they produce are the most similar to what the human eye sees.


Wide lenses tend to distort images. This means horizontal and vertical lines may come out looking curved, especially as they approach the extremities of the image. This is something we correct in post-production, though some distortion will often remain after correction. Distortion is a tradeoff of using a lens capable of capturing an entire room in one shot, which makes rooms look larger.


Compression occurs when shooting with a lens with a long focal length. The effect makes far objects look closer, and the distance between objects in a scene seem smaller. This can be a great way to create a feeling of intimacy in an image.


A tilt-shift lens is a special lens with a tilting hinge that allows the photographer to correct for perspective distortion. A typical use is for shooting tall buildings from the ground up where the building’s vertical lines move toward a vanishing point rather than appearing vertical. A tilt-shift lens can capture these lines with more accurate verticals.



In photography, RAW doesn’t refer to uncooked meat. It refers to images that have not been “cooked” in Lightroom or Photoshop. In other words, RAW is an image file with data exactly as it was captured originally by the camera. An image that has been retouched and saved as a .jpg is no longer RAW.


.jpg or .jpeg is an image that has been processed and saved for delivery. .jpg is a format used to compress images to reduce their file size. This is important for display on web pages because smaller images load faster. There is some loss of image quality when saving to .jpg, but this loss is usually not visible to the human eye.

Retouching, Editing, Post-production

These terms are usually used synonymously. Post-production refers to anything done to images after the shutter clicks. Editing can mean the same thing as retouching, but editing can also refer to the curation of images from a larger set. Retouching can also mean specifically the alteration of the details of an image, like the removal of unwanted objects or blemishes. When in doubt, they all mean the same thing: Work done on images in Lightroom and Photoshop.


Masking is the process of covering part of an image so that part does not appear, or so it doesn’t receive the effects of an adjustment in the masked area. This is done in Lightroom or Photoshop to make changes to one area of an image while leaving the masked parts untouched.

Window Replacement

One of the most important roles of our retouchers is the process of replacing windows in images. This is critical because cameras are unable to simultaneously capture the bright outdoors and the dim interior of a home. To overcome this challenge, we take multiple exposures of a room. One for the interior and a darker exposure to capture the detail outside. These are later combined in post-production creating an image that looks more like what we see with our human eyes. If the windows are poorly masked, an unnatural look can be achieved, so it is very important to mask precisely when replacing windows.

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio describes the length and width of an image as a ratio. For example, an image that is 800px x 1200px has an aspect ratio of 2 x 3. Old portraits you got from Olan Mills as a kid were 8” x 10” which has an aspect ratio of 4 x 5. This is a way of describing the relative dimensions of an image without having to know the exact pixel count on each side.


HDR stands for high dynamic range. It originally referred to the ability of a camera sensor or film to simultaneously capture a wide array of values at once,. It now refers to a specific method of combining multiple exposures of an image of various brightnesses. This is done to exceed the limitations of the camera’s sensor to achieve an image with detail in all areas of the image, both very light and very dark.